Dunwoody’s iconic “Everything Will Be OK” mural will be replaced sometime this year in favor of rotating, outdoor art installations.
After the mural’s 10-year stint on the side of the Spruill Gallery smokehouse building at 4681 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, the Spruill Center for the Arts is beginning an annual, outdoor art award that will display pieces from a different local, state or national artist each year. The pieces will be unveiled each October during Dunwoody’s Art and Culture Month.
The black-and-white “Everything Will Be OK” mural became the unofficial slogan for the recently incorporated city of Dunwoody when artist Jason Scott Kofke created it in 2009. The announcement of the outdoor art contest comes a few months after Kofke got into a copyright dispute with the center about using his design as yard signs for a pandemic fundraiser.
Spruill Center for the Arts CEO Alan Mothner said the mural will be moved somewhere else in the city, either in a public or commercial area, though an exact location hasn’t been picked.
The arts center is now accepting submissions for the first art award until Aug. 8, according to a press release. The winner of the Amplify: Spruill’s Annual Outdoor Art Installation contest will be announced Sept. 8, and the artist will create the piece from Oct. 4-10.
The artist will receive a $5,000 grant for the project and up to $1,000 for supplies, said Alan Mothner, the arts center’s CEO. The winner will also become the Dunwoody Artist in Residence for a week, according to the press release. Through a partnership with the Residence Inn by Marriott, the arts center will provide the artist with a welcome package featuring free meals and drinks from local restaurants.
“We don’t know what form it will take,” Mothner said. “We didn’t want to limit the creativity of the applicant, so we kept it pretty broad. It doesn’t have to be a mural.”
Mothner said the center has been discussing changing the artwork for a while and decided that October would be a perfect month, in part as a precursor to the annual Spruill Gallery Holiday Artist Market, which is the center’s biggest event.
The Spruill Arts Center previously removed the “Everything Will Be OK” sign to make room for new artwork, but public outcry always brought back Kofke’s mural in a recreated form, according to the arts center’s website.
The mural is part of Kofke’s ongoing street art project that puts simple, “Everything Will Be OK” block lettering in public spaces in order to contrast messages of authority, he previously told The Reporter.
His Spruill Gallery mural was created with the context of the global financial crisis, Kofke said. During the current public health crisis, Kofke is using the “Everything Will Be OK” messaging in other cities to do fundraisers, such as a large wall sign in Chicago similar to Dunwoody’s version.
The arts center and CREATE Dunwoody, which are both art nonprofits, created a yard sign version of the mural in order to fundraise for artists affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in late March. However, Kofke said the yard signs infringed on his intellectual property, and the center worked to resolve the issue with him. The fundraiser raised $40,000 in the two weeks before stopping the sales.
Mothner said the large Dunwoody mural helped Kofke’s rise to prominence, and he hopes to give new artists similar opportunities. The gallery will also print limited edition versions of the artwork to put on sale, and Mothner said he hopes the annual prints will become Dunwoody collector items.
“I hope the new artwork becomes something the city really looks forward to each year,” Mothner said.